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BOE budget

February 11, 2002

School Board turns focus to budget

By TARA REILLY
tarar@herald-mail.com


The Washington County Board of Education on Tuesday will discuss the proposed $132.7 million fiscal year 2003 operating budget, which includes 11 new positions and, at least for now, the extension of two interim administrative positions created in July.

The meeting is at 11:30 a.m. at the board's central office at 820 Commonwealth Ave. It is open to the public, but comment will not be taken until the public hearing on March 6 at 7 p.m.

The proposed budget is $7.2 million over this year's $125.5 million operating budget. The board is asking Washington County to contribute $5.78 million over its current contribution of about $70 million.

Ten of the 11 new positions are teaching jobs, and the other is the creation of a safety and security specialist who would oversee school security plans.

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Interim Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan said four of the 10 new teaching positions would be for the Alternative High School, which should open with about 40 to 60 students next month.

The remaining six teaching positions would be placed in the high schools. Morgan said an enrollment increase at the high school level is prompting the need for more teachers.

She said board administrators will also evaluate elementary teaching jobs and determine whether teachers cam move to the high school level.

The additional high school teachers would also mean more Advanced Placement course offerings and other additional advanced programs, she said.

The proposed budget includes:

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> $3.9 million in salary increases.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> $1.5 million in health insurance costs.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> $592,000 for improvements to instruction.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> $532,415 for improvements to high school instruction.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> $178,900 for building repair, modernization and security.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> $896,000 to buy 16 replacement school buses.

Morgan said the two positions she created shortly after she came to Washington County last summer - the interim executive assistant for administration and the interim executive assistant for instruction - will remain in the proposed budget for now.

Those positions each pay $86,378 this year and were funded by eliminating the deputy superintendent's position, from other funds in the budget and through grants that cover administrative costs and staff development, school officials have said.

Morgan, however, said she isn't sure if the interim positions will be needed beyond this year. She plans to evaluate the jobs this spring to determine whether they'll be necessary.

"They may or may not remain," she said. "I felt we just needed those for what I wanted to accomplish this year."

She expects the re-evaluation of jobs to be an annual process.

"We want to make sure on a year-to-year basis that we're putting our resources in areas that are important," she said. "My goal is not to just ask for more. My goal is to look internally first and see what we can do, and then ask for what we will really need to accomplish our goals."

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